Ray is the new Netflix India anthology that has its four segments being inspired by the late Satyajit Ray's short stories. For those unaware, the legendary filmmaker and honorary Oscar recipient has a knack of writing some amazing pulp fiction, whose genres often go into supernatural and science fiction. While Ray may not have segments that go beyond the confines of this planet, one of the shorts does play around with supernatural themes. Ray: Before Netflix Series Arrives, 10 Awesome Short Stories of Satyajit Ray You Should Not Miss Out on Reading!
There are four segments in the anthology series, two directed by Begum Jaan filmmaker Srijit Mukherji, one by Udta Punjab director Abhishek Chaubey and one by Mard Ko Dard Nahi Hota's Vasan Bala. Not all the shorts are direct adaptations, or in others words, take a faithful route in adapting Ray's stories.
In this feature, we rank each short in Ray based on how faithful an adaptation it is, from Most to the Least! Warning: SPOILERS GALORE!
Hungama Hai Kyon Barpa
Based On: Barin Bhowmik-er Byaram
Most faithful of all the adaptations in this series, the Abhishek Chaubey-directed short retains the psychological crisis and the inherent humour of the premise from the original and elevates it with the fantastic performances of its two lead actors, Manoj Bajpayee and Gajraj Rao. The one big deviation it takes is in how it wraps up the segment - the short story ends with a twist, the film explores the chance of offering proper redemption to both its lead characters in its quirky way. Ray Review: Manoj Bajpayee, Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor's Netflix Anthology Gives a Kickass Tribute to The Great Master Storyteller.
Based On: Bahurupi
The original short story was about a privileged man who recently came into money and dabbles in makeup. He changes his appearances to fool his friends and prank them, but one day, in trying to deceive a holy man, it backfires, and he is stuck with a disguise that puts him in a lot of trouble.
The film adaptation retains the essence of the plot, the same supernatural twists but makes it darker and more sinister. It turns the protagonist Indrashish (Kay Kay Menon) into a trampled man, who one day possesses the tools to manipulate those who have been harassing him, and settle scores with them. More than a childish prank gone wrong, it is his vindictive arrogance that proves to be Indrashish's downfall. Also, the meeting with the holy man, played by Dibyendu Bhattacharya, is more fleshed out here.
Forget Me Not
Based On: Bipin Chowdhury'r Smritibhrom
Like with the earlier story, even Bipin Chowdhury'r Smritibhrom is twisty, but more light-hearted than its adaptation. The plot elements are similar - in the short story, a vain government employee is troubled by the fact that a stranger comes to him and tells him a meeting they had at a place where he had never visited before. When his friend also corroborates to him being at that place at the same time, the man is further troubled and visits a therapist. Later, he realises that he has been pranked by the same friend for not helping him out at the time of his need. It's a slightly humorous story with enough mystery to keep you guessing.
Forget Me Not turns that 'meeting' into a lusty fling that its protagonist Ipsit (Ali Fazal) supposed to have had with a girl he doesn't remember at all. Replacing the meeting with a fling makes sense as we later learn that he is a sleazy fellow who had an affair with his secretary (Shweta Basu Prasad), on whom he cheated by dumping her and marrying his current wife. In fact, it is this vindictive secretary, who underwent painful abortion, who planned the vendetta against her boss, by attacking the thing he prides on - his memory - with the help of his slighted colleagues. Unlike the short story where the protagonist only ends up with a back sprain and humiliation, Ipsit ends up institutionalised, having lost his family and sanity.
Based On: Spotlight
Though it retains the same of its inspiration, Vasan Bala's segment is a far cry from the short story it is supposed to be based on. For one, the OG story doesn't focus on Kapoor's superstar but keeps him as a peripheral character. Also the person who steals his spotlight isn't a religious figure, but a geriatric who claims to have lived over a hundred years but doesn't look the age.
Vasan Bala's Spotlight just use the story as a flimsy foundation stone and then goes on to become the most irreverent, wacky adaptation of the lot, a farcical ode to Bollywood and blind religious fixation. In fact, I could also sense the influence of another Ray story Nitai and the Holy Man, that also formed the basis of the director's 1965 film Mahapurush. The point is, the segment, featuring Harsh Varrdhan Kapoor, Radhika Madan and Akansha Ranjan Kapoor, is more a tribute to the legendary-teller, and then goes on to pay obeisance to Bollywood, Hollywood and Amitabh Bachchan!
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 25, 2021 06:58 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).